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By Force and FearTaking and Breaking Monastic Vows in Early Modern Europe$
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Anne Jacobson Schutte

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449772

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449772.001.0001

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Degrees of Separation

Degrees of Separation

(p.187) Chapter 7 Degrees of Separation
By Force and Fear

Anne Jacobson Schutte

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses how elders worked to alienate adolescents from their families and thrust them into religious houses, beginning with emotional alienation (often achieved partly through physical abuse), proceeding to trickery, and then moving on to geographical distancing. When adolescents expressed reluctance or outright aversion to entering monastic life, relatives often had to employ coercive techniques aimed at reducing them to obedience. These measures were designed to inculcate fear and desperation by demonstrating to the young people that they no longer had a place in the family. Increasingly alienated from their kin and without further access to financial and emotional support from relatives and friends, adolescents destined for monasteries and convents did not have any chance of making their own way in the world. Sooner or later, young people came to realize that since they could not survive on their own, they had no alternative to vesting and professing as religious.

Keywords:   forced monachization, monastic life, adolescents, alienation, families, emotional distance

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